Far away from salmonella, Travis Flack dips himself into albumen


The UNF Photo Lab serves as home to many adamant photographers, shooting in the studio or slaving in the dark room.

Once such student is Travis Flack, a photography senior, who currently has two pieces on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville for the UNF Annual Juried Student Exhibition.

Sure 46 other students enrolled in some sort of art class also earned this honor, but Flack stands out with one albumen print and one Norrbom reduction on MOCA’s walls.

For the non-photographers, albumen prints arose in the 19th century when artists had a hard time formulating a glossy surface, Flack said. So they coated their prints in egg white and ammonium chloride and then coated that in silver nitrate.

Using this technique, Flack used some Moulin du Gue, special paper from France about which he’s “really ecstatic,” toned in all in gold and thus birthed “Your Body/is/What/For/Am/I.” This print features a hunched over woman, garnished with a destroyed surface outside of the frame, something Flack said contributed to his individual style.

He described his style as expressionistic with photographic theories of etherealism and realism thrown into the mix.

But who all influenced this sort of style? Photographers of whom you may or may not have heard: Dominick Martorelli, Paul Karabinis, Alex Diaz, Erik Tanner, David Norrbom (after which the Norrbom reduction is named) and Tyler Norman (the one Flack said would be upset if he failed to mention him).

“I bounce a lot of ideas off these kids,” Flack said.

“These kids” refers to the latter three, all UNF students, whereas the former three are UNF professors.

Martorelli is the head of the photography department and someone Flack said taught him everything, Karabinis taught him the most about alternative processes and he learned most of his digital work from Diaz. Flack also listed Dan Estabrook, a photographer who taught him and the rest of the photo arts class about the albumen process at MOCA.

In classes in which he might not know everybody, Flack said it helps to have his influences in class with him.

“These people will give me the most honest criticism I can ask for,” he said.

Although criticism flops on both side of a spectrum, there’s one person who Flack considers one of the biggest fan of his work – Jenny Cooper, a UNF [will ask Erik or get this info ASAP].

Sometimes, Flack’ll make something, say it’s terrible and then toss it in the rubbish bin. Then Cooper goes and takes it out.

“I’m like, damn, that is one of the most flattering things: I think it’s a failure, and she’s hanging it up somewhere,” he said. “It’s really humbling.”

Flack’s humility shines even though he’s had his fair share of honors, outside the MOCA exhibit and the March 25 Art ‘Friends’ Electric? show at Square One in San Marco.

At 16 years old, Flack had his work shown in the Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, Fla. He also showed in a gallery in his hometown of Clearwater, Fla. and at a gallery called [5]art in Ybor City, Fla.

The furthest from the Sunshine State his work shown is in the Reed Space in Brooklyn. Flack said a cop gave him a $250 ticket on his way to the shoot, so he shot everything very angry. Not only did this piece land him a place in the gallery, but it also appears in the book “Colorsplash Chakras” which The Lomographic Society International produces.

The subject of Flack’s very own productions include little instances in life, he said, such as an ashtray or other objects people leave behind. However, his pieces in the MOCA show both boast women as the central focus, one being his best friend, the other, his girlfriend Laura.

“My girlfriend is my greatest muse,” he said.

So, with his girlfriend at his side, and the subject of some photographs, Flack has some big plans for the future, including trying not to die. But in all seriousness, he’s trying to go New York City.

“I feel like my work would be big enough to go in New York, as really artsy as that sounds,” he said.

If that fails, Flack also is also interested in graduate school in Belgium, but he said he’s gotta learn some French first.

“Going into the art world is something that really terrifies me, and it’s going to happen really soon.”